|Not so boring letters of private nobody
Author: Landis, Matthew
Seventh grader Oliver, a Civil War buff and weekend reenactor, is partnered with two misfits--Ella, who is on the verge of failing all her classes, and Kevin, who is Oliver's lunch companion--to create a documentary about the wartime experience of a Civil War contemporary, and while they conduct research in local historical societies, collaborate on a script, and edit the film, they discover secrets about their Pennsylvania soldier and learn how to be friends with each other.
|Accelerated Reader Information:
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.40
Points: 7.0 Quiz: 194732
|Reading Counts Information:
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 4.30
Points: 13.0 Quiz: 72739
School Library Journal (00/01/18)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 01/01/2018 Gr 5–7—Seventh-grader Oliver Prichard can name every general and battle of the Civil War; he even participates in historical reenactments. So when he learns that a major history project is based on the Civil War, he feels confident that this will be his moment to shine. But there are two factors in Oliver's way: first, he is paired with Ella, a disheveled girl who is often staring out the window. Also, Oliver and Ella are assigned to research Private Raymond Stone, a Union soldier who died of dysentery, a long way from the glory-filled stories Oliver prefers to tell. As he begins to explore Private Stone's wartime experience, Oliver stumbles on a more engaging story, including a mystery about the soldier's enlistment. He also invites his friend, Kevin Kim, to join the quest which takes them from the Doylestown Historical Society to Gettysburg. Along the way, it is not only Private Stone's story that becomes more compelling—Ella's does, too. Oliver makes major missteps in navigating both the project and his "more than friends" interest in Ella, but with the help of his enthusiastic history teacher, Oliver reaches a more nuanced understanding of the Civil War and of his first crush. One of the novel's strongest scenes touches on the national debate about Confederate monuments. Although the dialogue between the characters feels stiff at times, the topic will appeal to young history buffs. VERDICT A solid choice for middle grade collections, especially those seeking contemporary stories with a healthy dose of historical content and curricular connections.—Shelley Sommer, Inly School, Scituate, MA - Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.